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Orakpo Mentally Recovered From Injury

Posted Dec 4, 2013

Readjusting physically was easy; the hard part for Washington Redskins OLB Brian Orakpo, was overcoming the mental limitations of the injury that ended his 2012 season.

Readjusting physically was the easy part.

The hard part for Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo, was overcoming the mental limitations around the injury that ended his 2012 season and get back to the Pro Bowl level he and his teammates were used to seeing.

Against the New York Giants on Sunday, Orakpo registered two more sacks on quarterback Eli Manning, continuing a sack streak of four games. The two-time Pro Bowler now has 8.5 in the 2013 campaign.

Charged with wreaking havoc on the quarterback’s blind side, Orakpo admitted that his recent uptick in performance has to do with being fully-recovered from a left pectoral tear.

“It wasn’t physical,” Orakpo said of his slow first half of the season. “I was ready to go. But the mental thing--do I really want to tackle with one arm and that same pec that I’ve been dealing with for the past year?

“That’s what happens, mentally, when you deal with a serious injury and sometimes you kind of favor it when you’re out there.”

The defensive unit this season has been plagued with missed tackles and opposing quarterbacks picking apart the secondary.

Orakpo, now fifth on the Redskins all-time sack list with 38 career takedowns, said he wants his expertise to help the defense hold opponents.

“I’m just trying to do the best I can for my defense,” Orakpo elaborated after the game. “I’m actually just getting into a groove as far as my [play]. Everything is just coming along naturally for me like I’m accustomed to doing and it just feels great to get back to my old self.”

The four-game stretch of having at least one sack is the longest streak for the former first-round pick.

Confidence is a key element to a successful player and team in the National Football League and Orakpo is gaining more with each passing week.

“Confidence is building and building,” Orakpo explained of his current mindset. “When you miss a whole year it really takes away from your tackling ability, your ability to read stuff out there and you’re just trying to get your knack back once the weeks progress and that’s what’s been happening.

“As the weeks progress I feel like I’m going to get better.”

In three of Washington’s last four games, Orakpo has recorded a sack on the opponent’s first drive.

That type of early momentum shifting play is something he hopes will translate into more victories—the only stat he cares about.

He refuses to bask in individual success, especially when the team is struggling in search of victories.

“I’m not that type of guy,” Orakpo disclosed. “I’m not like some of these other guys in the league that just care about their numbers.

“It’s all about wins and losses with me and I don’t give a damn about what type of game I had. It didn’t help [us] win.”

For the third time in six weeks, the Redskins squandered a double-digit lead.

All have been tough, but none have hurts more than losing to a division rival that could have watched its playoff aspirations dissipate in front of a soldout crowd at FedExField.

“It’s another one that hurts,” Orakpo told Larry Michael, Voice of the Washington Redskins. “I feel like I come here every week and say it but it’s disappointing. We fought so hard.

“To start the game off, coming so fast up 14-0 and then all of a sudden we’re in a dogfight in the end.

“We prepared very well for this Giant team and I really feel like we should [have] won this game, but we fell short in the end and it’s just disappointing.”

Officially eliminated from playoff contention, the Redskins can play spoiler for other teams with postseason hopes.

The burgundy and gold welcome the Kansas City Chiefs to town this weekend, the AFC’s current No. 1 wildcard.

After starting the season an NFL best 9-0, the Chiefs have lost three straight and are desperate for a victory.

In Week 16, the Redskins host the NFC East leading Dallas Cowboys to town.

In Week 17, the backend of the season series with the Giants will take place at MetLife Stadium.

The Redskins can severely cripple the playoff runs for all three teams.

“Everybody is going to know that when they play the Redskins, [they’re] going to get a team that still goes out there and competes and tries to get the W,” Orakpo asserted to CSN Washington. “We’re the spoiler alert right now.”

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